Asian Noodle Salad

 

imageI just adore the light vibrant flavors of Asian food. I also adore noodles. Boy do I love noodles. So much so that I try to limit myself to making only one pasta dinner a week. Not that there is anything wrong with pasta, it’s just that for me, it’s that one food that I have a hard time with controlling my portions. I’m sure you’ve all experienced that feeling of wanting more of your favorite food, and your belly is saying “I’m all set at this point” but your mouth isn’t quite on the same page. I think one of the things I love most about pasta is the texture. Now, having said all of that, I also love salad. It’s satisfying, flavorful, has interesting texture and really good for you. It is really versatile too.

In this recipe, I combine three of my favorites. I get my noodle fix, but not too much, I get the wonderful Asian flavors I adore in the dressing, and I get the flavors, textures, and many health benefits of all the various vegetables and nuts. You can add whichever vegetables you like here. Be creative! If you want to keep this vegetarian, you can add tofu, edamame beans, or other protein of your choice. You can eat this salad as a light main meal, or along side chicken, beef, pork, fish or shellfish. It pretty much goes with anything in my opinion.

So lets get started by first making the dressing.

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Gather your ingredients and measure them all out into a bowl or some sort of carafe to shake them all up. This dressing gets better as it sits a bit so if you can make it in advance it’s even better.

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When adding the garlic and ginger, I like to use a microplane. If you don’t have one, it’s ok, just mince them very fine so there aren’t any big chunks of raw ginger or garlic in your dressing.

Go ahead and whisk them all together in a bowl, or shake them in a jar or dressing carafe. Let it sit and get all happy and allow the flavors to marry.

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Next gather all your favorite salad vegetables, fresh herbs, sesame seeds and roasted peanuts together. For this salad I chose fresh spinach, sliced romaine hearts, radishes for crunch and heat, sliced, peeled and seeded cucumbers, grated carrots, shredded cabbage, green onions, fresh mint, fresh parsley(cilantro is also good here), white sesame seeds and dry roasted peanuts. Whew! Now that’s a salad!

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Now take your rice vermicelli, place it in a bowl, and pour boiling water over it.

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Work the noodles into the hot water so that they are all covered. Allow them to soften, about 5 minutes. They will still have a little bite to them, but unlike if you boiled them on the stove, they will be just soft enough without going too far and becoming mushy.

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Drain the noodles well and place them in your large salad bowl.

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Now pour just enough dressing over them, and toss them to coat them thoroughly. This will not only season them, but will prevent them from sticking together.

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Finish chopping up all your herbs and vegetables..

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Place all of them, along with the sesame seeds and peanuts on top of your noodles in the large bowl.

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Give your dressing a good whisk or shake, and start pouring over your salad. Do this a little at a time..

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Tossing all your lovely ingredients together, and tasting as you mix. Add more dressing as needed to get it all well dressed but don’t drown it in dressing. You want to still be able to taste all the wonderful vegetables!

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Finally, pick a pretty serving dish, plate this little beauty, sit back and enjoy. I hope you love this one as much as I do! Let me know what you think! 😀

ASIAN NOODLE SALAD (Yields:6-8 Servings)

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

2 c Fresh Spinach

2 c Sliced Romaine Hearts

1/2 Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced

5 Radishes, thinly sliced

2 Green Onions, thinly sliced,

1 Lg Carrot, peeled and grated

1/4 c Fresh Mint, chopped

1/4 c Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped

1/4 c Dry Roasted Peanuts

3 TBS White Sesame Seeds

6 oz Rice Vermicelli

For The Dressing:

1 Small Garlic Clove, finely minced

1″ Nub of Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely minced

3 TBS Soy Sauce

2 tsp Mirin( Rice Wine)

3 Limes, juiced

1/2-3/4 c Canola Oil

1 tsp Sesame Oil

1 tsp Sriracha, hot chili sauce

1 tsp Fish Sauce (optional)

1 TBS Honey

Procedure: 

  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, or shaking them in a jar or dressing carafe. Set aside.
  2. Place the rice noodles in a medium sized bowl, and cover them with boiling water to soften them, about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the noodles well, place them in a large salad bowl, and dress with just enough of the prepared dressing to season and coat them well.
  4. Place all the rest of your salad ingredients on top of the noodles.
  5. Slowly add enough dressing, a little at a time, to your salad and toss all together with the rice noodles until the noodle salad is well dressed. Do not over dress the salad so that all the wonderful flavors of the vegetables can be enjoyed. There will be extra dressing left over.

 

 

 

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Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Now wait, hear me out! Many people cringe when they hear the mere mention of the name of this vegetable. But really, they are good! Maybe you tried them steamed or boiled with a little butter on them, and although I like them prepared this way also, it’s not the most exciting version. These little guys are members of the cabbage family. They are typically about 1-1 1/2″ in diameter making them the perfect little package to serve as a side dish, or if you slice them very thin and toss them with a vinaigrette, they are wonderful as a salad. Brussels Sprouts are chuck full of vitamin C and vitamin K, and are also a good source of folic acid, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. When eaten plain, they can have a slightly bitter taste to them. But if you simply toss them with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and then roast them, they take on a wonderful nutty sweet flavor. You can also pan roast these if it is easier, and if you add diced bacon or pancetta before roasting they are especially good. Do yourself a favor. Be adventurous, branch out from those green beans, peas and carrots and try something new. I always tell people, just try it. You don’t have to love it, I certainly don’t love everything, but before you convince yourself that you hate Brussels Sprouts, try this recipe. Let me know if you love them as much as I do. It really doesn’t get any easier than this.

 

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First rinse your Brussels Sprouts under cool water to clean them. Remove the brown ends, and any outer leaves that may be dry, yellow or have brown spots. Slice them in half lengthwise.

IMG_1610Place the cleaned, sliced Brussels Sprouts in a bowl and drizzle just enough extra virgin olive oil to coat them, and season them with kosher salt and pepper to taste. You want to season them well.

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Lay them out onto a baking sheet, and roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Be sure to turn them over mid way through roasting to ensure even cooking and that a nice caramelization is achieved.

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MMMMMMM!!! I’m telling you, you’ll have a whole new attitude towards these little guys. Enjoy!

 

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Yields: 4 servings)

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, rinsed, cleaned and cut in 1/2

2 1/2 Tbs Extra Virgin olive Oil

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, to taste

1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Remove any yellow outer leaves, and cut the brown ends off of the Brussels Sprouts.

2. In a bowl, toss them with the olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.

3. Pour them out onto a baking sheet and roast them in the oven, turning them over mid way through for 40 minutes, until they are tender on the inside and crispy and caramelized on the outside. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

 

Easy Fried Rice

 

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Fried rice is a pretty quick and easy dish to whip up when you don’t have a lot of time. There are so many ways to make it, with different flavors and “add-ins” that the possibilities are endless. It is even quicker if you have left over white or brown rice from chinese take out. I always seem to and it’s a shame to just throw it away when you can quickly transform it into this tasty dish. Here I made the rice portion of the recipe first as I didn’t have any leftover in the fridge. Instead of just using water to cook your rice, try adding more flavor with chicken or vegetable stock, or in this case even more flavor with a vegetable stock with Thai flavors of ginger, lemongrass, lime, cilantro, and coconut! When I cook rice I like it on the light and fluffy side, and not too wet, so I use slightly less liquid than the traditional 2 to 1 rule of liquid to dry rice. I think it comes out much better especially if you plan to fry it. In this recipe I made things easy with just frozen peas and carrots for the veg, but feel free to add in whichever vegetables you like. Mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas, bean sprouts… there are so many options. Also there is a little butter in this version because I like the Hibachi style fried rice. It adds a really nice flavor but if you’d rather not add it it’s no big deal. It will still be yummy. There is added protein with the scrambled eggs, and you can take it a step further and add cooked shrimp, chicken, beef, pork or tofu to make it a one dish meal. This fried rice makes a perfect side dish, especially paired with my Grilled Asian Chicken recipe I posted yesterday. So get wok-in! 🙂 (Or obviously a saute pan is fine too)

 

 

 

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Gather all your ingredients and set yourself up, so you’re ready. This moves pretty quickly so it’s best to have your Mise en Place all set.

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Slice your onions, mince your garlic, slightly beat your eggs, and measure out the rest of your ingredients. Next, bring your water or flavored stock to a boil.

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Once the liquid reaches a boil, stir in your dry rice.

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Bring it back to a boil, and continue boiling uncovered, on medium high heat.

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When the liquid has cooked down to the level of the rice, and little steam craters appear, cover the pot tightly, turn your heat down to low, and DON’T PEEK! Let the rice cook for 20-25 minutes until tender, but not mushy.

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Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and set it aside until you need it.

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When you’re ready to stir fry, heat your wok or saute pan to medium high and add your oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring quickly, until just softened.

 

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Push the onions and garlic to the side and add your butter…

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Then your beaten eggs…

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And fry them up….

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until light and fluffy.

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Next add in your cooked rice, and peas and carrots. Stir fry together..

 

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add in your soy sauce..

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and your Mirin rice wine, and stir fry a couple more minutes to combine all the flavors.

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Et Voila! There you have it, Easy Fried Rice. Enjoy!

 

Easy Fried Rice (Yield: 4 Servings)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c Rice

2 1/2 c Water or Flavored Stock

2 Tbs Vegetable Oil

2 Tbs Unsalted Butter

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Medium Onion, thinly sliced

2 Eggs, slightly beaten

1 c Frozen Peas and Carrots

3 Tbs Soy Sauce

3 Tbs Mirin Rice Wine

Procedure:

1.Slice your onions, mince your garlic, slightly beat your eggs, and measure out the rest of your ingredients. Next, bring your water of flavored stock to a boil.

2. Once the liquid reaches a boil, stir in your dry rice, bring it back to a boil, and continue uncovered, on medium high heat. When the liquid has cooked down to the level of the rice, and little steam craters appear, cover the pot tightly, turn your heat down to low, and DON’T PEEK! Let the rice cook for 20-25 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and set it aside until you need it.

3. Heat your wok or saute pan to high and add your oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring quickly, until just softened. Push the onions and garlic to the side and add your butter.

4. Pour in your beaten eggs, and fry them up, until light and fluffy.

5. Next add in your cooked rice, and peas and carrots. Stir fry these together, add in your soy sauce and your Mirin rice wine, and stir fry a couple more minutes to combine all the flavors.